In our lives we all have things that shape us, cause us to grow, challenge everything we have known, and learn more about ourselves as well as our faith. I believe that this cor trip has done exactly that for me. I was planning on going into this trip with an open mind, and listening to what the other religions had to say and accept it and move on, but it ended up rocking the foundations of my faith, leaving me with questions, confusion, but through it all, a peace that God is still causing me to grow through all of it. I learned a lot about the world around me, the basic Christian foundation of my faith, as well as finding out more about myself and who I am in Christ.
There were many questions that have left me thinking, and caused me to really stop and think about the way that I was brought up in a Christian home. I have been blessed to live in a home where money is not an issue. I never have been taught about the way that other people live. Coming to college, I have been exposed to so many different issues that have really opened my eyes. When we were with Steve, from New City Fellowship, my heart was broken for all of those people. I have never seen anything like that before. I live in a small town where almost everyone is above the poverty line, and being poor is something that is not usually talked about.
This is where I began to question the way that I was brought up. I thought about the way that I was taught in Sunday school. Everyone in my class looked like me, acted like me, and in some aspects thought like me. We all grew up together, going to the same school from kindergarten until we graduated. Some of us had an understanding of what life in Africa, and other third world countries was like, but it was never discussed that that way of living was right in our backyard. I had a hard time understanding why my church never really talked about the poverty that was happening right across the river in U-City. I was thinking about the passion that was flowing from Steve as he spoke about his ministry and the boldness in his faith that he took to move his family into that neighborhood. What would this world look like if we, so called, “Christians” took that step of faith? Would our world begin to change? Instead of living in this comfortable place where everyone looks, acts, and thinks like us, what if we take a step of faith, and put our faith into action? Instead of having a set view on the world, what if we would all begin to live with an open mind, and out of our comfort zone? One thing that I want to do with my ministry has been driven from this experience. I want to follow hard God’s will for my life, and really devote myself to having a world view and serve all of God’s people, and not just the people who are like me.
This trip has left me with so many questions, that I am seeking answers to during prayer time, and conversations with servants who have gone before me. The core foundation of my faith is something that cannot be shaken, and that is the fact that God sent his only son to die for my sins, and the wrath of God was satisfied. There were a lot of things that I have grown up knowing, and understanding that I am now starting to question. I know that Christianity is the right way, and that the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus, but as I look at scripture, and what the Bible says about heaven, and what Jesus say, I wonder about many things. In John 14:6- “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”, what if the “way” that Jesus is speaking of is the way of doing good, or praying continually, or doing something else that involves advancing the kingdom of God, just in a different way. As I was thinking about this, and wrestling through this with God, I kept having this idea of the hands and feet of the body of Christ. God speaks to people in many different ways, so what if he is speaking to the Jewish people through acts of service, or through the Muslim people through prayer?
One thing that I kept seeing while we visited every place of worship was this sense that God is present in all of them. No matter where we were, I felt as if God was at work in all of the places just in different ways, and the presence of a mighty God was different in each. As Christians, we say that we serve the one true God, but we often put our God in a box. What if the same mighty God that we serve, also is at work in the many different places of worship throughout the country, as well as the world, no matter what religion or denomination they are.
I have learned that as a Christian and studying to be a pastor, that I know nothing. I am a Christian that follows Christ, with a small understanding about the way that other people in the world worship, and listen to God’s calling on their life, as well as the way that I listen and follow God’s calling on my life. I had a small understanding of many things in religion before going on the trip, and now that I have come back, I have found that the less I know, and the more I question, the stronger my faith has become. I have realized that I do not have everything figured out, and that is where faith comes in. I know what is Biblical truth, and I know what God says to me, I just need to take what I have seen, and witnessed this past weekend, and pray and think through it.
One thing that reminded me that we are all here to do a specific purpose, and that purpose is to advance the kingdom of God, and serve God’s people, was the fact that no matter where we were, whether we were in a protestant church, or the Jewish Synagogue the message was the same. Take care of those who are oppressed, widowed, an orphan, or alien around you. God calls us to do his work on earth, and no matter what religion or denomination, I think that God expects us to do his work. That was evident this past weekend, when we were in many different places of worship, and the message was taking care of those specific groups of people.
Over all, I think that this trip has been one of the best things that has happen to me on my faith journey. I am still sifting through all of the questions, and seeking the truth, but I have really taken the next step in following God’s will for my life even more. I know that right now things seem to be all out of order, and I don’t know where to begin putting all of my thoughts back into place, but I do know that God is molding me into something, and through asking questions, and wanting to know more, my faith have become greater, and my relationship with Christ has continued to grow. I have a better understanding of the ways that other people worship, live, and communicate God’s love to the world, but we are all here to make his name known. I am still questioning, and wanting to know more, but I think that is where God is able to work and move in my life the best, when I put all of my trust in him.